Klinsmann arrives in South Korea, targets Asian Cup title


SEOUL, South Korea—Jurgen Klinsmann has arrived to start his job as head coach of South Korea’s national team and immediately set a target of ending an Asian Cup drought that has stretched for more than 60 years.

The 58-year-old Klinsmann, who won the 1990 World Cup as a player and then coached his native Germany to the semifinals in 2006 before guiding the US men’s team to the second round of the 2014 World Cup, was hired by the Korea Football Association late last month.

South Korea has not been continental champion since 1960 and has already qualified for the 2023 tournament, which has been delayed until next January.

“The goal is to win the Asian Cup,” Klinsmann, whose contract runs until the end of the 2026 World Cup, told reporters after arriving at Incheon International Airport on Wednesday. “When the offer came, I was proud and honored to accept. I have visited Korea several times and it is a good country, with good people and a good team.”

The Asian Cup will take place in Qatar, where the Koreans reached the second round of the World Cup last December under Portuguese coach Paulo Bento.

Klinsmann left the United States in 2016 after five years with the team and his only coaching job since then was a 76-day spell in charge of Hertha Berlin that ended in January 2020.

The former Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur striker said that he’d followed South Korea progress as part of his duties as a member of FIFA’s Technical Study Group at the World Cup, a seven-member group that provides comprehensive analysis of the games.

“Korea performed well at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and I will do my best to continue the success,” Klinsmann said. “From coach Guus Hiddink (the Dutch coach led South Korea to the 2002 World Cup semifinals) to coach Bento, they have built good teams that can beat strong teams such as Portugal and Germany at the World Cup.”

Klinsmann’s first test will come in a friendly game against Colombia on March 24 and then Uruguay four days later. Asian qualifying for the 2026 World Cup, which will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico, starts in October.

Image credits: AP

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